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Turning Up The Heat At The Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen

The Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen makes it easier for small food businesses to produce and market their products. The Bowling Green-based kitchen, part of the nonprofit Center of Innovative Food Technology, is designed to give aspiring new food business owners the tools they need to bring their goods to the marketplace. 

Up-and-coming food business owners can use the kitchen to properly cook and label their products while choosing to attend classes on the legal documents and licensing needed to get their businesses off the ground.

“That’s our whole goal is to get people to come in with basically little more than a recipe and aspirations on doing something pretty fantastic, and then get them to the point where they can go into their own venues,” Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen’s Rebecca Singer told WTVG.

Photo Courtesy Agricultural Incubator Foundation

The shared commercial kitchen is just more than 500 square feet and has all the equipment chefs and bakers might need, including a six-food burner stove, refrigerator, freezer, and a bakery-depth convection oven. The kitchen is approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the FDA, meaning all the food created in the kitchen can be marketed and sold in local and national markets without further permitting. 

Businesses are allowed to use the kitchen until they have grown to the point that they need their own production facility. Staff are hands-on to answer any questions users might have.

Small businesses like Stateline Sauce Company, The Mustard Man, and tea maker The Shaman & The Bear are thankful for the resources as they grow their companies.

Photo Courtesy Agricultural Incubator Foundation

“As we decided we wanted to make this a business, they helped us with every step of the way. Everything we need, all the licenses and certifications, and they’ve put us in a really good place. We’re in a position to succeed now,” Stateline Sauce’s Craig Wagner told WTVG.

“… I was a guy with a recipe, and I kid you not, the first seminar I ever attended was ‘How to take your family recipe to market,’” Tim Campbell, owner of The Mustard Man, said to WTVG. “And the beauty of this place, it’s an education facility, plus, it’s the production facility.”

“And it gives guys like me a chance because I didn’t have to buy a building,” he continued. “I had no overhead. I didn’t have to get my house or facility licensed. I didn’t have to buy equipment.”

Photo Courtesy Agricultural Incubator Foundation

The Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen operates under the umbrella of the Agricultural Incubator Foundation, which was established in northwest Ohio in 1999. The foundation’s mission is to develop partnerships between farmers, agribusiness representatives, researchers, and educators to enhance the region’s agricultural economic growth. The incubator offers participants access to multiple greenhouses and 140 acres of land to grow plants for use in the kitchen. 

Together, all of these resources add up to the sweet taste of success for area food businesses.

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